I didn't sign the NORA

Posted by: TuffToodle

I didn't sign the NORA - 02/27/19 10:59 AM

Hello All -
I know it has been a while since my last post when DD was first tested she was in Kindergarten and now she is nearing the end of second grade. I feel like I am no further in working with the school on her GIEP and we are up for our review next week, so I came here for a pep talk/some answers. In Kindergarten we were given a pretty vanilla boilerplate GIEP and each year it has remained nearly identical to the year before.
I have learned that the school generally views this annual meeting as cursory - just a quick chat, sign the papers, and off we go - so with that being the case I like to have some idea before we meet about what my goals for the meeting will be.
I am always pressing the team for more specifics, measureable sdis, timelines etc...
So my first question: How often should the PLEP be updated and using what type of measurement? In Kindergarten I was able to get a more robust PLEP section, but last year they mainly used the teachers remarks and report card - this obviously doesn't work since in the majority of the report she is marked simply as "excellent" with no actual measurement of her abilities. I want to be thorough in the PLEP section because I know it sets the stage for the rest of the GIEP, but I obviously don't want her needlessly tested year after year - so what is a reasonable goal in this area? What types of assessments would be valid?

Aside from getting more specifics into the document, I have two real goals this year. The first is compacting. Does anyone have any experience with how curriculum compacting can be implemented in a public school classroom without the use of a computer curriculum? I often feel like in these meetings it is not enough for me to simply raise a concern, I also feel pressured to find the solution. I know compacting is something that would greatly benefit DD, but I am unsure of how it would be implemented without turning the whole school upside down - any suggestions would be great!
My second goal is subject acceleration - DD has been WAY ahead in reading for a long time now and the current offering just isn't cutting it - usually they pull her out 1x a week for special instruction, otherwise she gets small group instruction in the class and access to higher level books - this year I'd really like to see her pulled out on a more regular basis or leaving the grade level during reading to join a different class. Any thoughts on this?
Thanks again for all the help - I have a feeling I will be back again soon as DS starts Kindergarten in the fall and is every bit as bright as his sister (but way more trouble!).

Posted by: ChrystieATL

Re: Round Three! - 02/28/19 03:00 PM

TuffToodle. I don't know what state you are from. In GA there are two options, private and public.

In the public school (DeKalb county) they do discovery day (full day) as soon as you become gifted certified. Most see little value in it. Compacting math (18 month accelerated math in 12 months every year) starting in 6th grade. They have 2 gifted charter schools (Kittredge is one (for all gifted or highly accelerated kids and the rigor and attention feels like a private gifted school. These schools are free, require testing and then a lottery, which serves only about 10% of the need. This allows kids to get to Precalc as a Sophomore and Calc AB/BC + Multivariate. They also allow kids to take an extra 2 courses per year online or other vehicle to get ahead or take up to 2 courses in the summer. Again all for subject level acceleration. By middle school with parent pushing, demonstrated student performance and a lot of nagging to the school and county gifted folks you can get all the acceleration one would desire. I personally have a kid starting at GA Tech this summer as a 14yo and will enter as a Junior. Most public also allow dual enrollment for Junior/Seniors. Other counties don't have these things.

Option 2 is private school. In GA we have been disappointed by most private schools and we have tried many across 4 kids. They have great communication but the kids are generally middle of the road and not the best of the best. They still teach to average with little flexibility to accelerate until Middle/High school. There are a few exceptions of dedicated gifted schools that do accelerate. MIS is one of them, The Dinoff school is another and the one I really love is Fulton Science Academy (FSA). At FSA they allow compacting math starting in 1st grade based on student performance. This gets many to Precalc or Calc as Freshman in high school. They also have many kids grade skipping and accelerating in multiple subjects and will do so at any time during the year. It is 100% fluid. They allow summer school through other programs to come in and leap front a subject to the next grade level. The rigor is really strong and the best I have seen. You pay for this of course.

My advice is to call every private school you have access to driving wise and ask them what they are willing to do and currently do for acceleration. Find those rare gifted private schools that are used to and build around a philosophy of acceleration. They exist but are not often advertising it. These are not the mainstream schools for average kids. Most will require testing to prove some level of competence but off you will go and have no limits.

Some states allow you to go to the public school of choice. Arizona has that rule where you can live in one district but enroll in another one where the school shows better results. You may find a diamond in the ruff in the public school system but it is hard to do and most people pay for private gifted programs.

Sounds like you are beating your head against a wall. I can tell you I have fought a dozen or more times and when you recognize you can't make any more progress you move on. I have moved my kids into multiple schools throughout the elementary, middle and high school years. They have enjoyed the opportunity to meet lots of kids in different environments and were comfortable with that. Some kids need stability. Mine have not. The more flexible and mobile you can be the more opportunity.

Same deal I have found in my career. Moving every 2-4 years has allowed me to jump another level each time. After 1 promotion often companies don't quite see you at the next level as they know you as a single dimension.
Most school principals are the same way. They get burned out and stop wanting to help and bend the rules to push my kiddos after a couple of years. You are the one and only advocate so don't let people stand in your way.

Good luck!
Posted by: TuffToodle

Re: Round Three! - 02/28/19 07:01 PM

Thanks so much for the thoughtful reply. We are located in pa and have private school options, however they are way outside our budget. We are really stuck trying to make it work with the public school and we moved to one of the best districts in the state for exactly that reason. I have been reading and printing and highlighting all day, and sometimes I feel like we will never succeed in these meetings. I'm learning to stand my ground a little more each time though. I'll keep you posted on how my meeting goes next Thursday.
Posted by: TuffToodle

Re: Round Three! - 03/05/19 12:46 PM

Another concern I have as we approach Thursday's meeting is her lack of access to higher level material. I hear "DD is doing fine with the regular material and doesn't require differentiation because the material is new." This especially happens in Math. Of course, she can't pass higher levels of math if she has never been granted access to the materials - but with the slightest bit of instruction/access, she would easily skip through those units. My main issue is that something like fact fluency (while important) should not act as the gatekeeper to a more diverse, higher level, and quite frankly less boring Math material. Does anyone have any thoughts on how to have this conversation with the school when she is merely "meeting expectations" instead of exceeding?
Posted by: Aufilia

Re: Round Three! - 03/06/19 07:37 PM

Do you have any above-level testing to use for advocacy? Does your district use any insta-quick-testing thing like the STAR test? If they haven't given her ANY above-level testing, that would be my first request. Demonstrating ability on tests gives you something solid to use for advocating.

The only times we've had good math accommodations in a single-grade (not split level) elementary class was the year DD was allowed to work at her own pace from a higher-grade textbook. She was given pretests and skipped anything she could already do. She finished about half a grade of math in just under 3 months--and then, alas, the school year ended.

If the math is something she finishes quickly and has extra time, you could ask for enrichment such as Dreambox or Beast Academy Online--they're both decent for building concepts which will expand her depth of understanding. The Beast Academy textbooks are also really spectacular if paper books would go over better. If I had to choose between greater depth and greater speed, I honestly would go for depth--I think it will make a bigger impact on her learning in the long run.

For language, maybe it would be possible to have her join an older grade class for some lessons? The school may be reluctant to do this for scheduling reasons, though--teachers often just stick in lessons where they have time, and every class has a different specialist schedule so the time of a subject might change from day to day.
Posted by: TuffToodle

Re: Round Three! - 03/07/19 07:27 PM

UPDATE: We had our meeting today and it went exactly as expected. The PLEP section was entirely composed of DD's report card, unit assessments, and an outdated DRA level. I told the team I would not be signing until we had a better grasp on her present levels.
I have seen all the talk on these boards before, but somehow I was still surprised by their response - I asked what would happen now and they said no one had ever not signed before, it was good enough for all those kids, they just don't understand what I want. I tried to explain it's not about what I want - heck I don't know what I want - I just know we can't make an informed decision without the proper information. It was so hard to stand my ground during that meeting and I've felt absolutely sick about it all. I know I'm on the right path, but I don't have any background in this kind of thing so it's very intimidating and I am constantly second guessing what I think I know.
It's not like I think DD is so crazy gifted that we need to so much more than the average gifted family - I just think I am the first person to ever question the standard. In fact, I am quite sure DD will test within 1-grade level on most subjects because she has never had access to the higher level materials (which is another whole conversation).
Aufilia - the accommodations you listed were exactly what I was hoping to achieve. It makes me feel better to read that I wasn't crazy for asking for it.
Does anyone have any experience with not signing the NORA and what happens now? I'm so nervous.
Thanks again for all the support - I would have never made it this far without this group!
Posted by: Aufilia

Re: Round Three! - 03/07/19 09:41 PM

You are NOT crazy! GOOD FOR YOU for standing your ground and asking for what should be very, very reasonable things. You should be proud of yourself. It is so incredibly hard to face down a team of people who both believe they are experts and believe they are absolutely right and tell them they are wrong.

If they will not do above grade level evaluations, it might be worth some money to haev them done independenty. The trick IME is finding evalations that "speak their language" so to speak. They typically don't IME care about tests like the WIAT, but a test like the ITBS (often given for gifted program entrance), SCAT from Johns Hopkins CTY program, or a STAR assessment if your district uses them, might be the sort of data they would understand. (You may be able to get a private STAR test from at utoring center; when I was advocating for DS to skip kindergarten, I was able to pay for him to take the STAR at a Sylvan Learning Center).

FWIW if you haven't gotten an IQ test you might find it worth while for YOURSELF. Our schools have never cared one bit about IQ, but it's helped ME remain firm in my convictions to have in hand solid test results done by an outside party.
Posted by: TuffToodle

Re: Round Three! - 03/08/19 06:14 AM

Aufilia - THANK YOU! You have no idea how much I needed to hear those words this morning! When I left the meeting they said they would look into further testing, so I'm expecting an email about that sometime soon. I will look into the STAR tests at Sylvan, though I am hoping the school will do their part since money is tight. She took the WISC-IV to gain entrance to the program (2 years ago) but was only administered enough tests to generate a GAI score (not a FSIQ). She hit the ceiling on one of the four tests, so we know that her IQ would be "greater than 134" which was the calculated GAI. How much higher I am unsure, but the administrator did hint that she believed DD's greatest strengths lie in some of the subtests that were not delivered. Like I said above, I don't think we're looking at a 13-year-old with early admission to Harvard here, but subject acceleration in reading and some compacting in math seem reasonable to me. Especially now that the luster of school has worn off (Kindergarten was only half day and her first school experience, first grade was a full day, but now in second grade she's getting bored). I don't want the mundane to crush her thirst for knowledge and I want her to learn how to be challenged.
Do you know what the procedure is when you sign the "I do not approve" on the NORA? I have no idea what to expect next.
Posted by: TuffToodle

Re: Round Three! - 03/08/19 06:35 AM

Side note: I am having two problems with our requested accommodations - someone please tell me if my thinking is rational!
1. Reading DD is reading WELL above grade level (she's in 2nd and at home is comfortably reading at a 6th grade level for enjoyment - practically it may be even higher). However, she is simply meeting expectations in 2nd-grade writing. When asked about this she often says she gets tired, her hand hurts, and the assignments are boring. The school has been holding down her reading by citing her "written comprehension" I have been arguing that they need to separate those skills - accelerate her in reading and give her oral comp tests while continuing to work through 2nd-grade writing skills.

2. Math: DD is meeting expectations in math, but is bored silly. I strongly believe she needs some diversification in the curriculum. The entire year has been spent on addition and subtraction fluency and word problems - I feel like her fluency here is acting as a gatekeeper to "more fun" math topics that she could easily do alongside the current offering (fractions, geometry, charts/graphs, even beginner multiplication). She can't possibly score well on material she has never had access to so I know she won't test out of the current grade level, but with even the tiniest bit of instruction, I think she'd be more than capable.

Aside from a meaningful PLEP section and measurable goals (as if that weren't enough) those are the two big battles for this year - acceleration in reading and some sort of enrichment/compacting/continuous progress in math.

Thoughts?
Posted by: indigo

Re: Round Three! - 03/08/19 08:15 AM

Off the top of my head, it sounds good to me.

Forgive me if you've already posted about this, but...
have you looked into dysgraphia?

This old post has a brief roundup of general ideas on all sorts of accommodations.
Posted by: TuffToodle

Re: Round Three! - 03/08/19 09:08 AM

Thank you so much indigo! I'm glad I'm not some sort of crazy tiger mom that is demanding too much for my special kid (sometimes that's the way the school makes me feel).
I had not looked into dysgraphia before, while DD does "struggle" a bit she is still meeting all grade level expectations so I think it might simply be developmental (she is June bday so she is young for her grade). It is something to keep in mind though if it becomes more of an obstacle.
Thank you for the other post as well - I'm printing and highlighting all day!
Do you know what the next step would be in regards to not signing off on the GIEP - do I go back and forth with the school now for some time or straight to mediation? Is there a timeline? Is her current placement in jeopardy?
Posted by: indigo

Re: Round Three! - 03/08/19 09:38 AM

Originally Posted By: TuffToodle
Do you know what the next step would be in regards to not signing off on the GIEP - do I go back and forth with the school now for some time or straight to mediation? Is there a timeline? Is her current placement in jeopardy?
Hopefully others will chime in with recent experiences.

In the meanwhile, have you looked at your State laws and school policies? They may outline a process or protocol. The Wrightslaw website, and the old post with a roundup of crowd-sourced advocacy info may also provide some help or guidance.
Posted by: mckinley

Re: Round Three! - 03/08/19 12:30 PM

Originally Posted By: TuffToodle
I had not looked into dysgraphia before, while DD does "struggle" a bit she is still meeting all grade level expectations


It's quite possible to be dysgraphic and dyslexic and still not "fall behind." I have first hand experience. That doesn't mean you shouldn't get some sort of remediation, it just means that it may be harder to get that from the school.
Posted by: TuffToodle

Re: Round Three! - 03/08/19 01:00 PM

I'll admit that being a newbie parent I didn't do all my homework for her Kindergarten or first-grade GIEPs, but I learned from my mistake and have assembled my obligatory advocacy binder. I combed through 3 years worth of emails with the school, state law, district websites, printed, highlighted, post-it-noted and I am still scrambling to keep on top of it. But it is amazing how much calmer I feel having all those documents at my fingertips instead of floating around in my brain somewhere. From what I have read so far, there seem to be very definite timelines associated with a due-process-hearing, but nothing I found about the NORA or if we have to proceed right away to mediation. I'm just occupying my time with printing and highlighting until I hear from the school.

mckinley - I didn't mean to sound dismissive - but DD entered kindergarten as a strong reader and speaker and was slow to acquire her writing skills because she was never the type to color or write before school started, so I am inclined to think it is mostly her exposure. If anyone has any writing resources or activities - maybe this summer I can get her to start journaling or something to help her out.
Posted by: puffin

Re: Round Three! - 03/08/19 10:35 PM

Not very positive but. Don't expect the school to meet her needs. Sort out maths extension for home, take her places and make sure she has lots of books. Take as many days off as you can and tell her to treat school as review and a social experience or experiment depending on how she feels about school.
Posted by: coffee

Re: Round Three! - 03/10/19 04:22 AM

I haven’t been on here for ages but your posts remind me where things were with my daughter a few years ago. She was always great at maths and I tried hard to get her differentiated work but by year 3 was told that she wasn’t as fast as some of the others and didn’t need differentiation. She still got everything right in class tests but when faced with something new did ok, but wasn’t amazing.

We ended up moving schools (from one private school in Australia to another) for all the children and everything changed. She sat a test to be considered for enrichment (top 10%) and did so well she was placed in a pull out class with 2 other children (out of 100). She lacked confidence initially and felt behind compared with the other 2 children but now, in year 6, has found her stride again and her problem solving is fantastic. She sat 6 external maths competitions last year and got at least distinctions in them all and does different class work and different homework.

The difference I think, is in the school’s definition of which students needed extra work. The first school thought it was the students who were fastest at the basics. Her current school appreciated that she had an inherently good maths brain. Of course, because maths skills build over time, she’s fast now as well.

Having said all that, things only worked for us when we moved schools and got a teacher who actually understood what enrichment should be.
Posted by: Nolepharm

Re: Round Three! - 03/10/19 07:23 PM

I have a very mathy 2nd grader as well. He is in a public school that is not particularly strong on academics, but does an excellent job on character and leadership development. We’ve been patient with the school, choosing to focus more on social progress than progression in math. That said, we are beginning to push more for acceleration in math. He could do all the standard 2nd grade math when he was 3 or 4. We’ve had success letting him turn in 3rd or 4th grade beast academy work for homework, and when they do Istation on the computer, he can choose any topic up through 7th grade. These accommodations are helpful, but it is still frustrating that he hasn’t been taught a new math concept in nearly 3 years of school math (he absolutely lights up when learning new material). I don’t think typical schools will be able truly catch the young mathy kids where they are, so I am pretty resigned to just supplementing the curiosity at home. We’ve toured a top-rated public gifted program in our area that teaches 1 year ahead on the standards, and that still didn’t seem sufficiently challenging. I don’t really have any answers for you, but it is difficult. Best of luck
Posted by: TuffToodle

Re: Round Three! - 03/11/19 06:25 AM

Sorry it took me so long to respond - I took the weekend "off" to try and clear my head a bit. Every time I start to second guess my decision to push the school for more accommodations, DD is right there to prove to me why it is necessary. This weekend I was ordering groceries and gave her a math problem: If 6 boxes of tea cost $30, how much is one box of tea. She quickly came back with the correct answer and then proceeded to spend the next hour teaching herself division, multiplication, and algebra. But, here we are in school doing subtraction smh! I wish I had more time to work with her at home, but school takes up so much of her day--and then there's homework, dinner, and bedtime. Most of her enrichment happens over the summer when I give her some above grade level workbooks to do a few pages in each day. She already reads extensively for pleasure, so this year we're focusing on math.
coffee- your post gives me hope! at least I know I'm not crazy for asking for more math! Out of curiosity, do you know what enrichment test she took? Since DD is preparing for an onslaught of tests to remedy her PLEP section, I have been looking into the various options.
I'll be sure to keep you all updated as I hear from the school about our next steps. I've been talking with another GT mama and am considering organizing a parent group for our second-grade kiddos. We can all advocate better together and these are her GT peers, so they will likely be with her straight through AP Chem in high school lol.
Thanks again everyone!
Posted by: indigo

Re: Round Three! - 03/11/19 07:15 PM

Originally Posted By: TuffToodle
Most of her enrichment happens over the summer...
If I recall correctly, research has revealed that during the school year, gifted kids may experience slower academic growth than average kids... during the summer gifted kids learn more rapidly. These articles may be of interest:

High-Achieving and Average Students’ Reading Growth: Contrasting School and Summer Trajectories
Karen Rambo-Hernandez & D. Betsy McCoach
The Journal of Educational Research
Aug 8, 2014

Trends in reading growth between gifted and nongifted students: An individual growth model analysis
Tutwiler, M. S., McCoach, D. B., Hamilton, R., & Siegle, D.
(April, 2017)
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Antonio, TX.

Originally Posted By: TuffToodle
I'll be sure to keep you all updated as I hear from the school about our next steps.
Keep in mind puffin's sage advice... the school may not fully meet your child's needs... then parents must redouble efforts to provide opportunities for appropriate academic/intellectual challenge and growth. It is not easy, but you are among good company, you are not alone.

Originally Posted By: TuffToodle
I've been talking with another GT mama and am considering organizing a parent group for our second-grade kiddos. We can all advocate better together and these are her GT peers, so they will likely be with her straight through AP Chem in high school lol.
Great when this works... bear in mind that there are levels of gifted, differing interests among gifted children, and differing parental viewpoints (including various degrees of hothousing, pushy, competitive, laissez-faire, free-range parenting styles).

Stay flexible & resilient. Maintain a sense of humor. These are great things to role model for your child. smile
Posted by: Platypus101

Re: Round Three! - 03/12/19 03:59 AM

One last thought - remind yourself that she is in grade 2. If homework is just busy work that gets in the way of her learning at home - jettison the homework. Depending on what it is, you can tell the teacher it's been checked orally with you, or just do the last math problem, or tell them what you've replaced it with - whatever is appropriate. Figure out what is the worse that the teacher can do (and we usually fear huge repercussions that never arise), and try to get comfortable living with it. There will come an age when grades matter, compliance is non-optional and useless busywork (alas!) may have to be completed at home regardless of its lack of value. But grade 2 shouldn't be it.
Posted by: coffee

Re: Round Three! - 03/12/19 04:27 AM

Re the test I think it was just based on the ICAS ones, which are external maths (and other) exams in Australia that smart children sit for fun (lol). Except they either started at the harder part of the paper or were doing the one from a year ahead. I usually look at the papers when they’ve done their exam and I like them, there’re some questions that just need logic, rather than rote learned arithmetic.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Round Three! - 03/12/19 06:06 AM

Originally Posted By: Platypus101
There will come an age when grades matter... But grade 2 shouldn't be it.
Unfortunately, at least in the US, according to this linked government factsheet, data is being collected from PRESCHOOL through K-12 to post-secondary and workforce. This Longitudinal data may kept throughout the individual's lifespan and beyond.

Grade 2 may be the 4th year of data collection on the student (1=PK4, 2=K5, 3=Grade1, 4=Grade2), including test scores, teacher's names, grades earned, and more.

With Common Core, data collection, and equal outcomes, the government schools which children attend today are significantly different than the public schools which their parents may have attended more than a decade ago.
Posted by: Aufilia

Re: Round Three! - 03/15/19 04:29 PM

Originally Posted By: mckinley
Originally Posted By: TuffToodle
I had not looked into dysgraphia before, while DD does "struggle" a bit she is still meeting all grade level expectations


It's quite possible to be dysgraphic and dyslexic and still not "fall behind." I have first hand experience. That doesn't mean you shouldn't get some sort of remediation, it just means that it may be harder to get that from the school.


This is totally true. My DS9 has been diagnosed with both dyslexia and dysgraphia, but skipped a grade (before his dx) and his reading comprehension as of last spring was testing ~90% for his grade level. It's the outputting of what he knows in the form of writing that is difficult for him, both composition (which our school hasn't taught in a structured way) and handwriting (his is fairly illegible).
Posted by: TuffToodle

Re: Round Three! - 03/23/19 04:03 PM

Update: I am sooo sorry I haven't been responding - I dove head-long into preparing advocacy binders and now have a 3inch binder full of the state and district laws and a 2inch binder with advocacy articles and DD's tests and school communications. Whew!
Platypus - I had never even thought of just skipping the homework lol. Over the summer I usually pick out a workbook that is a few years above her and let her work on a few pages a day - there is no reason I shouldn't do something like that with her homework and I will certainly bring that up at our next meeting.
We have a parent-teacher (student) conference next week that should be fairly unproductive. It is mostly an opportunity for the kids to show off their "portfolio" and the teacher to justify themselves with no real time allotted to parent concerns.
Mid-April is the next big GIEP meeting. They called in both guidance counselors, the gifted teacher, the gifted program coordinator, the principal, and vice principal. I'm still polishing my materials in preparation for the ambush - oops I mean meeting.
The biggest outstanding question I still have is: what does appropriate testing for a PLEP look like? What tests? How are the scores interpreted into actionable items? How often are these tests done?
Right now I know DD has a woefully insufficient PLEP, but if I push for out-of-level testing this year - what about next year? Does she just keep taking these tests all the time? I fully expect the school to ask "what I want" at the next meeting and "further testing" doesn't seem like an acceptable answer, since the one time they conceded to further testing (back in K) it wasn't the right type, and no one implemented anything new after getting the results smh.
Thanks again for all the help - I'll try to check back a little more and update!
Posted by: Old Dad

Re: Round Three! - 03/29/19 07:16 AM

There were a couple of times when my sons were of that age when we simply had to tell the teacher that our sons wouldn't be participating in the repetitive simple math exercises and that we'd given him other assignments to do at that time. They were of course a little perplexed but we told them if our son didn't test up to standards we'd be happy for him to resume the standard program.
Posted by: TuffToodle

Re: Round Three! - 04/01/19 10:47 AM

I have been coming around to the idea of substituting her homework, however my husband calls that a "bandaid". Since so much of her day is spent in school, it hardly seems worth mentioning homework until the content of her school day has been dealt with. But it is certainly on my radar now. What type of homework assignments did you substitute? I was just going to order a workbook a few grades above her in each subject and let her do a page night. Does that seem reasonable? Obviously I'll gave to speak with her teachers, but as a starting point?
Posted by: TuffToodle

Re: Round Three! - 04/16/19 08:25 AM

MEETING UPDATE: Sorry, it took so long for me to update you - it was a crazy weekend and we are still trying to process.
The short version: the meetings was.....fine?
The long version: The PLEP section looks slightly better. They included a KTEA and full DRA level as well as the CBA's from this year. There is still a bit of a gap when it comes to above-level testing, but since I plan on asking for her to be accelerated in reading I imagine they will figure that out on their own.
I was super-proud of myself for standing my ground (and I didn't cry!), the gifted teacher got pretty upset and asked that I "trust the school" at which point I told her that "was not my job". So there's that.....
The rest of the GIEP was still wholly unacceptable as they had gotten the impression that the PLEP was my only concern since that was the complaint I listed when I signed the NORA. I explained that there was no point in a conversation about anything until the PLEP was fixed, so the bulk of our meeting consisted of us debating appropriate goals and accommodations.
The takeaway from the meeting was that the team would rewrite the GIEP with specificity and send it to me for review, I would submit one round of comments and then we would meet again. The biggest victory was the district has agreed to mover her annual meeting to October so that we are better able to have meaningful discussions as we move forward.
With each meeting, I get a little bit more nervous that I am overstaying my welcome. There is still a lot to be discussed and I fear that they will grow weary of my never-ending dissatisfaction, but we started so far from where we needed to be! The one thing I have in my favor is that at this meeting I gave them an outline of my current concerns, this way they won't be surprised when they come up again and again.
I'll let you know how things progress.
I really appreciate all the help (and hand holding). I wouldn't have made it this far without you!
Posted by: indigo

Re: Round Three! - 04/16/19 09:36 AM

Thanks for the update. I am proud of you, too.
smile
Originally Posted By: TuffToodle
With each meeting, I get a little bit more nervous that I am overstaying my welcome. There is still a lot to be discussed and I fear that they will grow weary of my never-ending dissatisfaction...
If you stay focused on meeting your child's needs,
and frame discontent in terms of meeting your child's needs,
and make suggestions/requests to better meet your child's needs...
you should be OK!
smile
Posted by: aeh

Re: Round Three! - 04/16/19 02:23 PM

You go girl!

You are learning how to do this advocacy thing, and doing it gracefully, I think. Firm and confident is not rude.

And not to be overly crude about it, but you cannot overstay your welcome: they work for you, the taxpayer, and for your child, to whom is owed a free and appropriate public education.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Round Three! - 04/16/19 03:26 PM

Originally Posted By: aeh
You go girl!

You are learning how to do this advocacy thing, and doing it gracefully, I think. Firm and confident is not rude.
Agreed! smile

Originally Posted By: aeh
... you cannot overstay your welcome: they work for you, the taxpayer, and for your child, to whom is owed a free and appropriate public education.
Unfortunately, teachers/schools striving to create "equal outcomes" can and do grow weary of parents appropriately advocating for their children... and may create a false narrative, even a toxic atmosphere to drive a child out. The data stored and shared about a student in the student longitudinal data systems means that moving to a new school does not necessarily provide a fresh start for the child. Keeping accurate records and complete documentation may help a parent maintain a semblance of reality if a teacher/school begins a false narrative and/or the creation of a toxic atmosphere.
Posted by: TuffToodle

Re: Round Three! - 04/27/19 07:58 AM

Thank you so much for your compliments. Man is it hard lol! I just received the new GIEP yesterday. It's not great. There is still so much work to be done. Without saying it out loud the district has really dug its heels in on properly subject accelerating dd in reading and has no mention of a math goal at all. The document takes a small step toward being more specific but ultimately misses the mark. I am currently cobbling together my written response and it looks like we're in for another meeting. This one makes me even more nervous than the last - though, when I'm honest, I'm not really sure what I am nervous about. Every time I receive a new GIEP I go back to advocacy binder and compare and contrast, do some more research and come out even more confident than I was the first time that I am not being unreasonable. It is a long road, but I'm glad I have to you all to travel with me.
indigo - I have noticed this sort of behavior already when they point to DD's one missed math question as a reason she's not exceeding despite her 93%ile scores on the KTEA - I agree she is not in a position to grade skip, but teaching her multiplication won't preclude her learning addition...
I recently requested a copy of her educational record and the guidance counselor informed me that I already had copies of everything. I asked for the full report from her tests and they said the tests themselves were copyrighted, so the scores I have are all there is to give - this doesn't feel right to me, as I have seen sample reports online that are many pages long and have great detail - the only information I have is scale-composite score-percentile rank- qualitative description alongside a 2 paragraph explanation of how she performed during the testing (was she nervous, did she make any comments on the material). During our meeting, the school psychologist was able to look up grade equivalencies so I know that information is at least available.
Looks like I need to send some more emails.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Round Three! - 04/27/19 08:47 AM

It may be that they did not write up any additional narrative on the formal testing. The sample reports you've seen online are likely the ones generated by report-writing software--which many professionals prefer not to use, as they are hardly rich in clinical interpretation. Anything else is generated by a professional from the scores you've already been provided, and therefore not part of the student record if they choose not to generate it. Grade/age equivalencies can be looked up, but it's not best practice to use them for any high-stakes decision-making, as the tests are not designed for such use.

I mention this just so you fight the battles that are worth fighting--of which I think you already have sufficient!
Posted by: TuffToodle

Re: Round Three! - 04/27/19 02:35 PM

I agree the grade/age equivalencies are essentially useless, but since the district still has not provided any insight as to her instructional levels I am trying to work with the information I have. I am happy to hear there is no secret report that they are withholding lol.
As a side note, does anyone have any experience combatting the argument that "our district is so great that the nationally normed tests aren't reflective of the material being used in the classroom - all our kids perform above average." This seems to be the most pervasive obstacle to obtaining acceleration. Any pointers you have would be great. Thanks!
Posted by: aeh

Re: Round Three! - 04/27/19 06:50 PM

Sigh. Pervasive everywhere! To that, my preferred response would be placement/end-of-unit/end-of-course testing using the actual curriculum employed by the district. If a student performs at a level on the actual core curriculum that is comparable to that routinely used to determine grade-advancement, then equity would demand that the student in question be considered to have mastered that grade level of material. E.g., if all other seventh-graders are considered to have passed math if they demonstrate cumulative mastery of the curriculum with a grade of 70 (in this case, using, say, the end-of-course test as a proxy for course grades), then a student who can pass the end-of-course test with a 70% should advance to the eighth grade math course. And if the average student completes the course with a grade of 85, then go ahead, use 85% as the cut score. Best would be if they actually had the end-of-course test score for the lowest passing student, but they might not have that data. And if they don't have any of that student data (which would be troubling from another angle, which there's no need to go into here), then, as 70% is widely considered mastery level (e.g., in standards-based grading systems), I'd suggest that cut score.
Posted by: TuffToodle

Re: Round Three! - 05/03/19 07:46 AM

Thanks aeh - my biggest hurdle with that testing is math. In reading, DD will surely pass out based on that criteria. But I've been trying to explain to the district that DD is also gifted in math, but should not be expected to self teach the subject matter in order to be provided compaction (and eventual acceleration because of the compaction). The very purpose of compaction is identifying her aptitude and rate of acquisition while realizing she has not been presented the material before.

UPDATE: The school emailed this week and mid-month we are headed to an IEP facilitation. I am both hopeful and terrified, but either way, there should be progress. I'll keep you posted smile
Posted by: TuffToodle

Re: Round Three! - 05/20/19 06:19 AM

Hello!
It is amazing how cooperative the school can be with a facilitator sitting in the room! We won't have the final document until sometime this week, so we'll see it if contains everything that was promised during the meeting, but for now, I'm going to take our victory lap!
They added start/stop levels to the goals, assessment timelines and how many, a PLEP synopsis with instructional levels in each subject area and how they were determined, agreed to pretesting in math, above level textbooks in every subject, differentiated homework, spelling lists, and vocab. They agreed to regularly send home the rubrics and assessments so that we could stay in the loop and added CDT testing 3x a year in reading to stay on top of her levels. It feels like a dream come true.
The best part is that we meet again in October so we get to take this GIEP for a trial run before we meet next year.
Thank you all sooooo much for your help - I would have never dreamed we'd make it this far and I certainly wouldn't have had the courage of my convictions without your support.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Round Three! - 05/20/19 08:51 AM

Excellent! smile

As part of successful advocacy, next steps customarily include writing a friendly, factual letter of understanding, summarizing decisions made and agreed upon at the meeting. This written confirmation documentation often helps to avoid undue procrastination and/or failure to implement.

If the facilitator was an advocate hired by you to represent your child's interests, you may wish to discuss this step with your facilitator/advocate. If the facilitator was provided by the school to assist with creating the IEP, you may wish to include him/her on the distribution list for the letter of understanding.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Round Three! - 05/20/19 11:08 AM

Nice work, TT!
Posted by: Peony2

Re: Round Three! - 05/20/19 07:11 PM

Originally Posted By: TuffToodle

As a side note, does anyone have any experience combatting the argument that "our district is so great that the nationally normed tests aren't reflective of the material being used in the classroom - all our kids perform above average."


I suspect it wouldn't go over well to bring this up with your school officials -- but for your own information so that you can evaluate for yourself the school's claims of being above average, it might be interesting to look up your school district at: How Effective Is Your School District?


In the end what matters to you is what they do for your kid, not what the school district may or may not be doing statistically for kids on average.

But more data may help you gauge how well they know their own performance.
Posted by: syoblrig

Re: Round Three! - 11/25/20 08:37 AM

I realize this is an old thread, but in regards to how to answer the school's insistence that its curriculum is so good that all the students are advanced, I think that's an easy answer. Every student is entitled to a year's growth in every subject. Regardless of where other students are academically, your student should have measurable growth, and that is where the subject begins and ends. It has nothing to do with other students.